The Boys’ Magazine: 1910-1920
of Smethport would be complete without mention of Scott F. Redfield’s
nationally distributed Boys' Magazine.. Each month from 1910
to 1920, the Scott F. Redfield Co. of Smethport, Pennsylvania, published
The Boys' Magazine. This magazine featured adventure and suspense
fiction along with moral-related juvenile literature.
article written by
The Boys' Magazine (1910-1920)
From 1910 to 1921 The Boys' Magazine offered young man a monthly publication that combined the adventure and suspense of dime-novel fiction with the more acceptable juvenile literature in which proper behavior reaped rewards and stories had obvious morals. With entertainment its primary purpose, The Boys' Magazine also sought to mold character, encourage fitness, and develop interest in hobbies and skills.
The thirty-two-page magazine sold for $0.10 a copy, or $1 a year, and was published by the Scott F. Redfield Co. in Smethport, Pennsylvania, a small town in the then thriving Pennsylvania oil fields. Redfield, born in 1880 in Washington, D.C., the son of a newspaper reporter, moved to Smethport and married into a prominent local family. He was involved in real estate and automobile sales before his publishing venture and edited the magazine throughout most of its existence.
The Boys' Magazine presented short stories and serialized longer pieces in which the hero was a teenage or young adult male. It also included articles on exemplary young men, athletics, and hunting, as well as regular departments that were an important part of the periodical in its first eight volumes. George Avison illustrated almost all of the covers and a high percentage of the stories published, although the artwork of other artists, such as A. O. Scott and Clare Angell, was regularly used too.
Most of the fiction was dramatic and exciting, placing the young heroes in perilous situations that called for bravery and clever thinking. Conventional narrative forms predominated: historical fiction, technology and transportation, confrontations with bank robbers, Indian life, prep school or college life, sports, and nature adventures.
The smallest category, historical fiction, included
serialized accounts of young men's patriotic efforts during the American
Revolution, such as John T. McIntyre's: Young Continentals at Bunker
Hill" (January 1910 and following and following issues) and Everett
T. Tomlinson's "Light Horse Harry's Legion" (August 1910 and following
issues). One other historical topic for fiction was the taming
Some of the stories dealt with young men's adventures in aircraft, automobiles, and trains. A positive attitude toward technical knowledge was reinforced in these stories, encouraging the readers to learn how to operate and care for mechanical equipment. The opening issue contained "Skimming the Skies," a serialized tale of two bright young men who not only build and fly dirigibles but also catch thieves. "Gasoline Bronc" (July 1915) by George M. Johnson illustrates the superiority of modern technology: a ranch manager's son uses his motorcycle to break through and Indian attack and bring back help to rescue the surrounded cowpunchers. In several of the railroad stories, such as Roe L. Hendrics's "Return to Duty" (April 1913) and C. H. Claudy's "Dick's Start" (February 1911), near wrecks are averted at the last minute by quick-thinking youths who comprehend the intricacies of dispatching and telegraph communications. Another tale clearly stressing the need to master modern communications. Another tale clearly stressing the need to master modern communication skills is "The Surrender of Father" (January 1915) by Maud Mary Brown, a story in which the hero assembles a wireless transmitter and calls in aid to put down a strike in his father's coal mine.
Bank Robbers were regularly foiled in The Boys'
Magazinefiction by brave young men who used their wits. "The Proving
of Billy" (February 1915) by Gardner Hunting, "When the Hour Struck"
(January 1911) by J. S. Danielson, and "Fixing a Robber" (February
1913) by Harry W. Newcombe exemplify this type of story. Indian
stories were also very popular, whether in an entirely Indian cultural
setting or in recounting a clash with white traders or settlers moving
west. A large number of the Indian stories published in The
Boys' Magazine were by Ernest Carliowa, a regular contributor.
Nature adventures made up the largest single group of short stories in The Boys' Magazine. These stories were of two basic types: stories of young men who battle the elements and stories of young men who confront wild animals. Examples of the first type include Hugh F. Grinstead's "Flood and Its Messenger" (December 1914), Arthur Knowle's "Adrift on an Ice Raft" (January 1913), and Archibald Rutledge's "Vine and the Whirlpool" (February 1913). In the second type of these stories, the animal might be a puma, a panther, or even a bear, but always the young hero narrowly escapes a grisly death. Examples of this type include "A Tussle with a Wildcat" (March 1915) by Ladd Plumley, "The Worthlessness of Buster" (February 1913) by Roe L. Hendrick, and "A Crop of Sweet Corn" (August 1914) by Harrison R. Heath. A fascination with the great outdoors is apparent in many serials as well, notably the string by Hugh Pendexter: "The Young Lumbermen," "The Young Prospectors," "The Young Forest Rangers," "The Young Timber- Cruisers," and "The Young Gem hunters."
Although most of the magazine was devoted to fiction, articles also appeared. Usually, they presented and exemplary young man as a role model of offered tips on athletics, hunting, or fishing. Occasionally, articles appeared urging correct moral behavior (such as temperance) or discussing geographical wonders, but they were not very common. John L. Harbour was responsible for many short, inspirational, biographical pieces, such as "Our President's Young Son" (January 1913), concerning Charlie Taft, and "From Messenger Boy to Fifty-Thousand Dollars a Year" (January 1912), the rags-to-riches story of corporation president Belvidere Brooks. Advice articles on sports or hunting were penned by experts, such as baseball professional Billy Evans's serial "Developing a Crack Baseball Team" (July 1913 and following issues) and the reoccurring tips on shooting by Warren H. Miller, editor of Field and Stream.
From the start a heavy emphasis was placed on regular departments. Alfred P. Morgan edited a monthly column on electricity and mechanics, Arthur Mallett edited on stamps and coins, and Donald Grandon edited another on photography. Day Allen Wiley's "Curios Department" disappeared in May 1910, and A. Neely Hall's "Carpentry Department" debuted in March 1910. Both in emphasis and presentation, the most significant department dealt with athletics and was edited by Walter Camp, originator of the first All-American football team. Cam's name and influence were so integral to The Boys' Magazine that in November 1911 he was made editor-in-chief, responsible for a monthly editorial on sportsmanship. Redfield made himself editor again in 1915, dropping Camp to the status of contributing editor. An article by Simon T. Dillon, "Boy Scouts Movement" (December 1910), led to the inauguration of a monthly column edited by John Prine Jones. Devoted to the activities of the Boy Scouts of America, this column extolled their work and encouraged membership. Beginning in August 1911, it predated Boy's Life,* which did not start publication until the following July.
The departments were converted of disappeared during a reorganizational shakeup of The Boys' Magazine that occurred in the premiere 1915 issue. Herbert Hungerford was made "chief booster" and ostensibly took over the editing of the magazine, although Redfield retained the title. Formerly active in the YMCA and creator of the first Boy's Success Club in New York, which developed into the later Success League, Hungerford sought to make the periodical more dependent on reader submissions with an expanded Prize Department. He also enlisted the aid of Orison Swett Marden as contributing editor on success winning and character building topics; Warren H. Miller as outdoor life editor; Spencer Hord of Kodak as photography editor; Jack Glennister, founder of Boys' Life, as athletics editor; and Edna Earle Henderson as nature editor.
Circulation was listed as more than 100,000 by April 1915 and more than 110,000 by July 1915, but there were signs the magazine was in trouble. Pulpier, less expensive paper was used, and typeset size was reduced as advertising increased. By volume 9, stories from volume 1 were being reprinted in their entirety. Hungerford's attempt to stimulate circulation by allying the readers with his Success League and later with his "Squarefellow's Republic," a similar program encouraging readers' contributions, ultimately failed, and The Boys' Magazine, after raising its price in September 1920 to $0.20 a copy, ceased publication at the end of that year. -Scot Guenter © 1985
Redfield Stamp Weekly was published during the early 1910's
at the printing presses in Smethport.